Portable appliances have, for quite some time now, been capable of wireless charging. The most common application of this convenient technology is in your mobile phone and its accessories.
Despite phones having wireless receivers in-built since 2017, most people still don’t know whether their current phone is wireless-charging ready.
Well, if your phone was manufactured after 2018 then the chances are it will have a wireless receiver built in. All the major handset manufacturers now view wireless charging as an essential capability of their tech.
There are so many reasons to switch from wired to wireless charging and this guide will convince you to make the switch too.
What is Wireless Charging?
Let’s get the basics out of the way. Wireless charging is a method of charging your appliance through induction charging by a transfer of electrical charge between two points – your phone which has a wireless receiver and the charging point/pad which is the wireless charger.
A very common mistake to make is people referring to wireless charging as Wi-Fi charging. It isn’t!
The wireless receiver in your phone is essentially just circular copper coils about the diameter of a flat golf ball. The wireless chargers are the same size copper coils as the receivers and when the two meet they ‘couple’ and exchange power – one-way from charger to receiver.
There’s lots more involved to this electrical exchange but this gives you the basic principle and we will drop in more technical information throughout this article.
For now, just take our word for it that wireless charging is better than wired charging, both for you and the planet.
What Are the Different Wireless Charging Standards?
Strictly speaking there are three types of wireless charging: Radio Charging, Resonance Charging and Inductive Charging/Near-field Charging.
In this article we are only dealing with Inductive Charging as this is the technology that is prevalent in our everyday appliances such as our mobile phones or cell phones.
The Wireless Power Consortium is the main authority in the wireless charging world and was established in New Jersey, USA in 2008.Its primary aim is to establish market adoption of its interface standards inAsia, Europe and America with global standardisation of wireless charging technology the ultimate goal.
Back in 2013 the Wireless Power Consortium established the Ki cordless kitchen standard which developed a standard for cordless kitchen appliances. Fascinating stuff but not what we are concerned with in this wireless charging article.
Qi (pronounced chee)is the interface standard we are dealing with when we talk about wireless charging in phones and other portable appliances. There are other standards but once the big boys like Samsung, Apple and Google decided that Qi would be their preferred standard then it became THE STANDARD for wireless charging worldwide.
The world of Wi-Fi moved in a similar way whereby a global standard was required, and the Wi-Fi Alliance was formed to perform this role in 1999.
Global standardisation is so important when you consider how much we travel, how international our personal products are and how we all demand seamless use of technology.
So, Qi is the global standard with the Wireless Power Consortium as the controller and driver of wireless charging standards worldwide.
How Quick is Wireless Charging Compared to Traditional Wired Charging?
There are so many variables here that it’s actually quite difficult to provide an answer for every use and user.
First off, let’s deal with your phone and its wireless receiving capabilities. Most handsets today are supplied with wireless receivers that can achieve a maximum of 15W transfer. That isn’t to say that every wireless charger can deliver 15W and some only deliver 5W or 7.5W.
Older wireless receiving handsets can only receive 5W and some wireless chargers can only deliver 5W.
Obviously, the delivery of 15W wireless charge to a 15W phone from a 15W charger is the quickest charging speed in wireless terms.
But the receipt of the charge is actually also dependent on the amount of battery held in the phone at the point of starting the charging process.
The less battery percentage at the starting point, the quicker the battery fills to different stages within the cycle. We all know how slowly the last 10% or 5% can fill up don’t we?
The slowdown of the battery charging process is all to ensure that the battery never exceeds the maximum 100% level. Over filling the battery is incredibly dangerous.
Why is charging to precisely the 100% level so important?
This is most easily explained by comparing the goal of 100% battery charge to a 100m sprinter crossing the finishing line and a train pulling into a station. The sprinter is travelling at full speed when they cross the finish line whereas the train slowly arrives at the exact point on the platform that is its goal.
If the train was travelling at full speed when it arrived in the station it would stop nowhere near the platform point it desired. It’s the same with a phone which mustn’t exceed the 100% battery capacity when charging.
The principles of battery charging stages are exactly the same for wired charging as wireless charging.
This takes us nicely to the variables of wired charging which are numerous, not least on whether you are charging through a USB port or directly from mains plug socket.
Both USB ports and plug sockets are capable of delivering very different battery charging speeds as a USB port might only deliver 5W whereas a mains socket will deliver as much as the plug/adapter is capable of receiving – this can be anything from 10W to60W.
We now move to the cables being used to charge your appliance and, in this article, a particular focus on phone charging cables.
As with most things in life ‘you get what you pay for’ and charging cables are no exception to the rule.
If you buy the cheapest cable, then the chances are this is a) going to deliver low volumes of power and b) the cable sheath is going to wear and tear quickly.
A good quality phone charging cable will contain four strands of copper or aluminium and it’s the metal that delivers the electricity from the power source to the phone.
In cheap/poor quality cables there might be thinner strands of copper, and these will be incapable of decent electrical conductivity.
The cable/lead sheath is the non-conductive rubber or plastic (or even plant-based materials like corn and sugarcane) coating that insulates the metal strands and ensures our safety.
When the sheath is constantly curled or bent this speeds up the deterioration in quality from what can already be a thin or lesser quality sheath.
The sheath quality doesn’t affect the power transfer as such, but it will determine how long your cable is safe to use.
So, it is difficult to provide an answer to the question of whether wireless charging or wired charging is faster. Good quality products will perform best in this charging ‘competition’.
Check your phone to see what it’s capable of receiving via wireless charging and then check what the wireless charger is capable of delivering.
How Can Businesses Integrate Wireless Charging Into Their Existing Infrastructure?
Businesses in any sector should seriously consider offering wireless charging to their staff, visitors or patients.
Why? So that these people are able to ensure their appliances are charged quickly and easily wherever and whenever they need to.
These days, people shouldn’t be expected to lug cables around, and then try to find an unused socket. And if they don’t have their cable, they desperately seek one from busy staff and can also end up using inappropriate sockets that are required for other operations while at the same time causing dangerous trip hazards.
To solve the charging issue there are multiple solutions.
Firstly, there’s the option of building in wireless chargers to your existing furniture like tables.This means the look of the furniture changes and also there’s the challenge of where the power supply comes from and hiding it, so it doesn’t become a hazard.
Then there’s the option of just plugging in some cheap wireless charging units and scattering these around your premises. This option is fine if you’re not trying to give a quality wireless charging experience and if you don’t mind the chargers being broken or misplaced (stolen).
You could look at installing a locker system or two but this option limits where these bulky units can be installed and can mean charging the end user for power. This option also requires the user to leave their phone or other portable appliance in the locker and therefore unaware if calls, messages or other communications have arrived.
In some commercial situations a wireless charging solution provider might actually provide the hardware for free. BEWARE! This free option will invariably require the enduser to allow the wireless charging provider to extract all their personal data and that of their contacts. ‘Big data’ is valuable and can be sold at far more than the cost of providing the free hardware to the business.
The best option for businesses of all types is to provide robust solutions that have actually been designed for the challenges of commercial premises. Ones with a) NO DATA CAPTURE, b) are free to the end user and c) are designed to thrive when installed in busy environments. Wall-mounted charging shelves are the perfect solution.
What Are the Benefits of Integrating a Wireless Charging Solution?
Quite simply by providing accessible and free charging solutions your premises or business will generate gratitude (perhaps unspoken) towards the provider.
Almost everyone carries a phone and a lot also carry other portable appliances like tablets.These machines are their rock which provides contact with family, friends and colleagues as well as entertaining their owner and performing as a work machine.
Providing convenient charging stations that include wireless chargers allows everyone to stay connected throughout the day. Happy, connected people are more productive employees, travellers, visitors and colleagues.
For catering and entertainment premises, customer dwell time can be increased and indeed, the choice of venue might well be determined by which offers free charging facilities. In areas where keeping in contact with family and friends is crucial such as hospitals, or where communication with colleagues elsewhere is business critical, the availability of wireless charging services reduces stress and increases productivity.
What Are Some Examples of Businesses Successfully Using Wireless Charging Solutions?
There are thousands of examples where businesses have benefited from providing wireless charging solutions. Too many to list here so perhaps just ask ‘What business premises does NOT need to provide a wireless charging hub?” Have a think about that question.
Literally, every commercial sector will be excluded from this list of businesses that do not require to provide wireless charging points.
Here’s just a few of the commercial premises that are essential givers of a free charge to their people:
· Restaurants, bars coffee shops and clubs
· Stadia, arenas, shopping centres and theme parks
· Hospitals, waiting areas, retailers and ships
· Universities, festivals, gyms and offices
The list could go on forever here but suffice to say any business you can think of in any country in the world should be considering providing wireless charging solutions.
What Are the Costs Associated With Integrating Wireless Charging Into a Business?
As we discussed in the earlier section on HOW CAN BUSINESSES INTEGRATE WIRELESS CHARGING INTO THEIR EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE? there are numerous options for businesses to choose from and each one carries a different cost. Costs can be one-offs or ongoing.
The most sensible option is to purchase or rent (extendable warranties) the most robust solution that will survive the challenges of your busy business.
Check that the power delivery is going to be market leading (15W for wireless chargers and 12W forUSB ports) and that the power delivery is safe (check their test certification).
Finally, consider how the charging solution will look in your premises. Is the product brandable or configurable to your needs? Will it generate brand warmth for your business?Will the product enhance your people’s experience or will the product be unreliable and create frustration from users towards your business and your people.
The Future of Wireless Charging Technology
One thing is for sure, we are going to see more and more use of wireless charging technology. It is just so convenient and a much better solution for the planet longer term than using charging cables with their ultimately disposable nature and high use of natural resources.
More and more portable appliances will come fitted with wireless receivers whether that’s your tablet, your dashcam or your work bodycam. These are just the smaller ‘objects’ that can be wirelessly charged and already we’re seeing cars will be capable of wireless charging their massive batteries.
It isn’t for us to try and predict the future but with all the brilliant minds working on technology, it’s only a matter of time before we start asking why an appliance hasn’t got wireless charging in-built.
Our phones, watches, and earbuds are already wireless-charging enabled so whatever ‘must have’ accessory is introduced next will almost certainly be brought to market with cable free charging as the best option.